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14 Cards in this Set

  • Front
  • Back
birth and family
the son of a wealthy arms manufacturer

born probably in 496 B.C.E. in the deme Colonus near Athens
how does he match up to other playwrights?
he scored the most wins in dramatic competitions, and won the most important dramatic festival, the City Dionysia, an unmatched 18 times
education and acting
received an education in music, athletics, and dancing, and as a boy of fifteen was chosen to lead the paean (hymn of praise) sung by the chorus of boys after the victory of Salamis

acted in the plays he wrote

showed his musical skill in public, when he played the blind singer Thamyris in his drama of the same name, and played the cithara with such success that he was painted as Thamyris with the cithara in the famous Stoa Poecile ("painted colonnade"), a prominent gathering place in ancient Athens
political/military affairs
involved in negotiations with the allies of Chios and Samos

During the Peloponnesian War he was one of the generals

fulfilling the office of Hellenotamias, he was at the head of the management of the treasure of the allies, which was kept on the Acropolis

when the question arose of giving to the state an oligarchical constitution, he was on the commission of preliminary investigation

He also filled a priestly office
well loved
had many friends, like the historian Herodotus

especially beloved by the gods, particularly by Asclepius, god of medicine, whose priest he probably was
his children/grandchildren
By the Athenian Nicostrate he had a son, Iophon who won some repute as a tragic poet

and by Theoris of Sicyon another son, Ariston, father of another Sophocles who gained fame for himself by writing tragedies of his own, and afterwards by the production of his grandfather's dramas
quarreling with Iophon
a legend that a quarrel arose between Sophocles and his son Iophon, on account of his preference for this grandson (the Sophocles fathered by Ariston)

when summoned by Iophon before the court as weak in mind and unable to manage his affairs, he obtained his own absolute acquittal by reading the chorus on his native place in the Oedipus Coloneus
how did he die?
details are mythical

According to one account, he was choked by a grape.

According to others, he died either when publicly reciting the Antigone, or from excessive joy at some dramatic victory.
how was he buried?
the god Dionysus, by repeated apparitions in dreams, prompted the general of the Spartans, who were then attacking Athens, to grant a truce in order to bury the poet in the family grave outside the city

On his tomb stood a Siren as a symbol of the charm of poetry
how do the Athenians remember him?
the Athenians worshipped him as a hero and offered an annual sacrifice in his memory

In later times, on the proposal of the orator Lycurgus, a bronze statue was erected to him, together with Aeschylus and Euripides, in the theatre, and an authorized and standard copy of his dramas was made to preserve them.
his memory
the most perfect of tragedians

one of the ancient writers calls him the "pupil of Homer"

If Aeschylus is the creator of Greek tragedy, it was Sophocles who brought it to perfection
he extended dramatic action by...
1) by the introduction of a third actor, so that three people could be on stage in addition to the chorus, while in his last pieces he even added a fourth

2) by a due subordination of the chorus, to which, however, he gave a more artistic development, while he increased its numbers from twelve to fifteen persons

These moves made dialogue all the more important

He also perfected the costumes and decoration
his writing
Sophocles' great mastery of his art appears, above all, in the clearness with which he portrays his characters, which are developed with a scrupulous attention to details, and in which he is not satisfied, like Aeschylus, with mere outlines, nor, as Euripides often did, with copies from common life

His heroes, too, are ideal figures, like those of Aeschylus

In contrast to Euripides, Sophocles, like Aeschylus, is profoundly religious, and the attitude which he adopts towards popular religion is marked by an instinctive reverence

his language takes a middle place between the weightiness and boldness of the language of Aeschylus, and the smoothness and rhetorical embellishment which distinguish that of Euripides
Sophocles was a very prolific poet...
The number of his plays is given as between 123 and 130, of which above 100 are known to us by their titles and by fragments

Only seven have been preserved complete: The Trachinice, the Ajax, the Philoctetes, the Electra, the Oedipus Tyrannus, the Oedipus at Colonus, and the Antigone

the Oedipus at Colonus was not put on the stage until 401 B.C.E., after his death, by his grandson Sophocles

Besides tragedies, Sophocles composed paeans, elegies, epigrams, and a work in prose on the chorus.